News Two SETON Hospitals first in Texas to receive designation as Primary Stroke Centers

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AUSTIN, Texas - (December 1, 2004) - SETON Healthcare Network is pleased to announce that two of its hospitals have received the coveted Gold Seal of Approval by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) for its comprehensive stroke prevention and treatment programs.

Brackenridge Hospital and Seton Medical Center are the first hospitals in the state of Texas to be designated as Primary Stroke Centers.

"The Brain and Spine Center is proud to have two hospitals recognized as Primary Stroke Centers. This designation represents the achievement of one of our main goals in the development of our center. Establishing this level of care in Central Texas provides the necessary public health service and improves standards of care in this region. Stroke certification illustrates our ability to provide quality care based on national criteria and ultimately improving stroke patients? chances of recovery," said Craig Kemper, MD, Medical Director of Brain and Spine Center.

Primary Stroke Centers are required to meet certain standards of care set forth by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association. They include: 24/7 stroke team-physicians who are experts in diagnosing and treating cerebrovascular disease, round-the-clock imaging services, and comprehensive commitment from hospital staff to coordinate and deliver care to acute stroke patients.

Hospitals that achieve the certification are organizations committed to sustaining excellence in stroke prevention and treatment.

In October 2004, a JCAHO team made an on-site visit and evaluated both hospitals based on the following: compliance with consensus-based national standards; effective use of established clinical practice guidelines; to manage and optimize care and performance measurement expectations for the management of chronic care illnesses. The JCAHO team took several weeks to analyze the information collected and found no deficiencies in its review of the hospitals. This certification of distinction will be good for two years.

"Our comprehensive care starts from the moment they enter the emergency department, through acute treatment to rehabilitation. Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke is critical," said Neal Rutledge, MD, Interventional Neuroradiologist and Medical Director of Stroke at SETON. "Patients have a three-hour window to get to the hospital in order to receive treatment. Those patients who do not get treatment within that time frame can still benefit from other treatments."

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, with 700,000 strokes occurring annually. Stroke is a type of cardiovascular disease. It affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.

The most common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked by a blood clot which can impair brain function and cause severe disability or death. Another type of stroke is a hemorrhagic or bleeding stroke that occurs when the blood vessels in the brain rupture. Strokes can cause paralysis, affect language and vision, and cause other problems.

"It is important to educate our community about ways to reduce the risk of stroke, increase awareness and to recognize and respond rapidly to the signs and symptoms of stroke. This certification verifies SETON and Brackenridge?s ability to improve outcome. However these outcomes can not be improved unless a person seeks emergency care promptly," said Patrick Crocker, DO, Chief of Emergency Medicine, Brackenridge Hospital and Children?s Hospital of Austin.

Warning signs of a stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

"More than 1,800 strokes occur each year in the Central Texas Region. Unfortunately, very few are seen and treated within the three hour window and almost half wait twenty-four hours or more," said Darryl Camp, MD, Medical Director of Neurology, Austin Medical Education Programs at Brackenridge. "By achieving this certification, we will hopefully raise awareness about stroke itself."

The Stroke team includes specialists and support in: Neurology, Neurological Surgery, Neuroradiology, Emergency Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine. The team treats simple and complex vascular disorders by incorporating recent developments in emergency medicine, stroke neurology, microneurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology, stereotactic radiosurgery, neurointensive care, neuroanesthesiology, and rehabilitation neurology.

For more information about stroke visit www.brainandspine.net/stroke.

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